Marching down with Pride
Slay Models march down the aisle as June brides in this collaboration with Mikee Andrei and Slate Medical Group for Pride Month 2023
It's the season of the June bride. Many girls dream of walking down the aisle as a radiant bride wearing the most beautiful wedding dress in a scene that is straight out of a fairytale. But for Filipina trans women, this fairytale wedding still remains a very distant dream that seems out of reach.
June is also Pride Month. Aside from the June bride, we also celebrate LGBTQIAP+ Pride. Slay Models Asia, as part of the first trans-exclusive modeling agency in the world, is using the occasion as an opportunity to highlight not just the beauty of our girls but also the real life struggles that they face, just because they live their authentic lives.
For this campaign, Slay Model Search Asia 2023 1st runner-up Abby Ecalnir and finalists KC Cusi and Lauren Sanz, collaborated with renowned fashion designer Mikee Andrei and the Slate Medical Group to turn dreams into vivid images and showcase that any woman should be able to marry whomever they love and that every woman can be a radiant, blushing, and beautiful bride.
It was Abby's first time to model a wedding gown. "During the fitting, I had so many thoughts running in my mind, like 'I wish one day I would be able to wear a wedding gown in my own wedding.' And of course, I would also want to experience having my own wedding celebration and walking down the aisle. Not just because it's a tradition or culture but also because this is what I've always dreamed to experience one day as a trans woman."
"I felt beautiful when I wore the wedding gown," KC said. "It has always been a dream for me to be married in a church, to walk down the aisle together with my family. It's the first time I wore a wedding gown for a photoshoot so it made me feel the excitement of actually getting married. Ms Mikee Andrei's gown was so dreamy and romantic with all the bead works. Everyone made me feel extra special that day."
For Lauren, wearing the wedding gown was like a fairytale that she would watch as a child before, as a young trans girl. "I felt like it is an unattainable dream. However, it was a moment that truly made me feel like I am accepted, desired and loved. I felt like the most beautiful woman capable of receiving and offering love to my future partner."
"It is definitely a dream to commit to someone who loves you unconditionally, especially when marriage is denied to my community. Marriage has become a yearning for a young girl like me—that finally, someday, someone will take me up in his arms and say ‘forever’," she muses.
In collaborating with Slay Models Asia, designer Mikee Andrei says, "I myself belong to the community so I know firsthand what it's like to be deprived of opportunities, which come so easy to others. But that didn't stop me from striving and thriving. We are far from being given the equality we've been fighting for but we also have gone a long way. I am still optimistic that despite the challenges of not just being accepted but also of being given full rights as individuals, especially in unions, we are way ahead from decades ago.
"I myself dream of walking down that aisle and be a bride too. I have a vision of how my wedding will be like. I think that's what inspires me to work with weddings. People may think that it will actually come easy for me, knowing that I am a bridal designer, but God knows how I pray that someday, I'll get to be a #MikeeAndreiBride myself,"
"Beauty knows no gender because it transcends societal constructs and expectations. It exists in the unique expressions and experiences of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity. Embracing this concept dismantles rigid beauty standards and allows for the celebration and recognition of diverse forms of beauty."
Dr. Maika Slatenšek
Slate Medical Group
For Dr. Maika Slatenšek of the Slate Medical Group, her support for this campaign and the LGBTQIAP+ community as a whole stems from her belief in the fundamental principles of human rights. "I believe that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, deserves equal rights, protections, and opportunities in all aspects of life."
She also believes that fighting for LGBTQIAP+ equality promotes social justice and inclusivity. "Embracing equality fosters a more inclusive and accepting society, where diversity is celebrated and everyone can live authentically without fear of prejudice or discrimination."
For her, we will all benefit from a more diverse and inclusive standards of beauty, "Beauty knows no gender because it transcends societal constructs and expectations. It exists in the unique expressions and experiences of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity. Embracing this concept dismantles rigid beauty standards and allows for the celebration and recognition of diverse forms of beauty."
Women supporting women, allies supporting community members, this is what we need more of to help make dreams a reality. Marching down with Pride is a celebration of the power of love. Every trans girls who dreams of walking down the aisle deserves to #MarchDownWithPride. Let's help make those dreams come true.
Photography and Creative Direction: Niccolo Cosme
Assisted by: Sher William Avellino
Hair and Makeup: Culture Salon
Styling: Mikee Andrei's Team
Text: Benedict Bernabe